From: Reuters
Published February 6, 2007 12:00 AM

WTO Says Free Trade Can Help Guard the Environment

NAIROBI -- Proposals in the revived Doha Round of free trade talks could help protect the environment if governments agree to a deal at forthcoming negotiations, the head of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said on Monday.

Measures to cut farming and fisheries subsidies will stop overproduction while others will lower tariffs on environmentally sound goods and services, Pascal Lamy said on the fringes of a major U.N. environment meeting in Kenya.

"These are not just speeches, they are very concrete proposals to really help," he told Reuters in an interview.

Lamy had earlier told hundreds of delegates the WTO would be at the forefront of encouraging sustainable development, especially in the world's poorest countries.

It was the first time a WTO leader had attended the U.N. Environment Programme's Governing Council meetings, and his a',ttendance was hailed by environmental campaigners.

Lamy said the WTO was now reviewing how it could work best alongside multilateral environmental treaties like the Kyoto Protocol on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.

"If there is something on the table that can be done to bring environmental benefits, then our position is let's do it. The WTO is very pragmatic on this," Lamy said.

He called on environmental campaigners to back the planned resumption of the Doha Round talks, which he suspended in July amid to deep divisions between the body's 150 states.

The negotiations stalled over the failure by major powers like the United States and European Union to break a long-running deadlock over the politically sensitive issue of farm trade. But recent meetings have seen signs of flexibility.

Experts say the key to a deal lies in getting deeper U.S. cuts in farm subsidies, which poor nations say give farmers there an unfair advantage, and in securing similar reforms from the EU, Japan and other big importers on farm tariffs.

The round was launched in the Qatari capital in 2001 to boost the global economy and lift millions out of poverty.

Source: Reuters

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